Home > Building a Pond > Miniature Ponds for Patios and Small Spaces

Miniature Ponds for Patios and Small Spaces

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 8 Jun 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Containers Pots Barrels Patio Limited

Often the usual route to bring the feel and – most importantly – sound of moving water into the small garden or patio is to opt for a bubble feature, pebble bowl or self-contained wall fountain. It is a well tried and highly successful approach and there is no shortage of ready-made units for sale if the prospect of making your own does not appeal.

However, if you really do want more of a real pond – but in miniature – with a little ingenuity coupled with a bit of careful selection when it comes to materials, it is not too hard to introduce a pool of your own, into even the smallest of spaces. All you need to get started is a suitable container.

Choosing the Right Container

Sealed half-barrels and terracotta pots have long been favourites for this job, but modern plastic planters have come a long way from their rather utilitarian origins and can make very effective container ponds, with the advantage of lightness and being instantly water-tight. Depending on how large a pot you can accommodate, it may also be possible to add a small fountain or mini water feature as well – assuming the surroundings can tolerate the wetting and extra humidity from the spray.

Having chosen your container, choose its site carefully before you start filling it; even a small pot can be surprisingly heavy once it is full of water. Pick a firm, level spot in a sheltered part of the garden or patio, away from trees, where it will get enough light. The small volume of water in these ponds makes over-heating a real possibility, so try to locate yours where it will be shaded from the sun during the hottest part of the day.

Plants for the Pond

Selecting the right plants is probably the key to a successful patio pond, since in the relatively small space available, overly-vigorous plants will soon take over and choke the water. For a very small container pond, the plants may have to be relegated to an almost incidental role and selected more on what will stand a chance of surviving rather than what we might necessarily choose given the full range of depths – and area – of a more traditional pond. However, for anything other than the smallest, planting the container can offer very much the same scope as any full size feature, though obviously on a somewhat reduced scale. With a little care to avoid overcrowding, one or two selected specimens of marginals, deep water plants, oxygenators and floating plants can successfully be accommodated to provide an imaginative display in even the most cramped of corners.

Floating plants such as the hardy native water soldier (Stratiotes aloides), or the tender water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) seem particularly at home in a container. Adding a showy but compact shallow marginal such as the variegated Japanese rush (Acorus gramineus) will make a perfect contrast. Alternatively, some plants, such as the deep marginal lotus (Nelumbo) can be particularly striking if used alone in a small water garden.

How many plants you can house really depends on both the volume of the container and its surface area. As a broad guide, a 50 litre (12 gallon) pot will happily accommodate three or four marginals, a dwarf water lily, one or two floating plants and a non-invasive oxygenator – definitely not Canadian pondweed (Elodea)!

Planting

Cover the bottom of your container with 5cm (2 inches) of washed pea gravel and then fill it two-thirds full with water. The plants should be accommodated in proper plastic-mesh pond pots, filled with garden soil and then top dressed with more gravel. Oxygenators, water lilies and deep marginals should then be lowered carefully to the bottom, taking care that the soil in their pots is not disturbed, while bricks can be used to support marginal plants at the right height. Finally, top up the pond so that the water lies about 2–5cm (1–2 inches) from the top and then add any floating plants.

If you do decide to add a small pump or lights, do remember that water and electricity are not natural partners, so all the usual safeguards apply and if in any doubt, professional advice from a qualified electrician should be sought.

Every garden – however small – can benefit from the sight and sound of moving water, so even if the space available to you is distinctly limited, it is still possible to enjoy a pond of your own and add a whole new dimension to your patio.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
@firsttimer. Unfortunately we cannot recommend specific businesses, but an internet search or a look on various forums might help you. Maybe our readers can offer a few recommendations?
PondExpert - 12-Jun-15 @ 9:59 AM
Hiya, Is there somewhere you recommend online to buy pond plants from? I don't drive and have a container pond in desperate need of plants. Thanks!
Firsttimer - 8-Jun-15 @ 6:11 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Nana
    Re: Managing Plant Overgrowth Within Your Pond
    I have an average size wildlife pond in my garden full of goldfish and newts, sadly no frogs this year! It is…
    8 April 2020
  • Wanna C
    Re: Repairing Your Pond
    Hi. I have inherited two fish ponds which are raised to about 4 feet and cladded with wood. Both are made from a rigid fibre glass and are…
    7 April 2020
  • Pondnewbie
    Re: Repairing Your Pond
    We've just moved and have inherited a rectangular brick pond approx 6x4 in very poor condition. Apart from massive moss overgrow, there is…
    2 April 2020
  • Donita Gower
    Re: Dealing with Green Pond Water
    We have an old pond which is purely used for wild life.... there are no fish i it. This year the pond water has turned into green…
    1 April 2020
  • stuatel
    Re: FAQ: Pond Water Problems
    I have a problem with our pond which has a flow of water through it. The water comes from field run off and goes through our pond and…
    31 March 2020
  • LondonSteve
    Re: Plants for a Small Garden Pond
    I am building a pond/water feature for a couple of goldfish. It’s a round bowl shape 120cm diameter and 60cm at the middle…
    28 March 2020
  • Log
    Re: Building a Concrete Pond
    What paint do I need to put on the concrete to seal the wall and the base please Peter
    21 March 2020
  • Shazzy
    Re: Your Top Pond Questions Answered
    I have just built a raised pond which is about a foot above the ground. I would love to have frogs and toads in the pond…
    4 March 2020
  • Dons
    Re: What Could be the Reason for all the Fish Dying?
    Lost a fish 2 weeks ago now and just looked in pond 2 more dying they no spots on them
    13 February 2020
  • dieterlost
    Re: What Could be the Reason for all the Fish Dying?
    Hi just changed the water 2/3rds of the pond this January because fish were gasping for air and I’m…
    13 February 2020